Almost four years ago, I was grieved like never before for the plight of 276 schoolgirls from Northern Nigeria.
In an online devotional, I came across women who were praying mightily and fervently for the release of these girls—and I have been praying ever since.
Over the past four years, much has changed. Nigeria has gotten a new president; the Nigerian government has fought Boko Haram with noticeable success. But, for 112 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, and their friends and families, little to nothing has changed.
Many could have children, based upon video footage1; some have gotten married2. But, throughout all the changes, one disturbing, grieving thing has stayed the same:
As of today, 112 Chibok schoolgirls are still in captivity.
My devotional time with Christ brought me to read Isaiah 62-63, again. One of the very passages of scripture this blog hangs upon, it was more than a coincidence that this passage was right next to the passage of scripture I was going to read, today. As I read it, the reason for why I was even led to create this blog once again became clear to me.
“I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out,
reminding God to remember.
They are to give him no peace until he does what he said,
until he makes Jerusalem famous as the City of Praise.”
(Isaiah 62:6-7, The Message Version)
My heart was encouraged by this verse, as I continued to search the passage, remembering what Christ clearly promised me. I came to verses 10-12 of Isaiah 62.
“Walk out of the gates. Get going!
Get the road ready for the people.
Build the highway. Get at it!
Clear the debris,
hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
‘Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
prepared to complete what he promised.”’
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
(Isaiah 62:10-12, The Message Version)
To be honest, my heart is downtrodden, and a bit cynical, as I have watched day after day go by with little to no change in circumstances. But it is during these times that I understand my need for gratitude. Jesus has brought forth goodness, changed circumstances, and freed many, many people; He just hasn’t done it according to my will or time schedule. It is during these times that I am convicted of my own complaining.
These past four years have been incredibly difficult, but they have been highlighted with many victories. 164 Chibok girls have been freed, and are well on the road to healing, after all they have gone through. Some have even gone back to school—something that is nothing short of miraculous. Parents have stayed alive, and have watched their daughters come and hug them. Numerous people have surrendered this situation to Jesus’ control, and watched Him work in amazing ways.3
But yet, there is so much to still be done. So much to pray for. So much to hope for.
One of #BringBackOurGirls’ hashtags for this four year anniversary is “#HopeEndures.” Oh, how it does. True Hope endures only when our Hope is not in circumstances changing alone, but rather Hope in Christ– knowing that He is in control, and using all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Jesus is active, and moving in this situation, far more than we could ever possibly see. Though, in context, Isaiah 62-63 is about Israel, it can be applied to the situation concerning the Chibok girls. Isaiah speaks of a “day of vengeance” for the LORD in faith, as if it had already happened (though he was prophesying about an event that was going to happen in the future).
“…It was for me [the LORD] the day of vengeance;
the year for me to redeem had come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
I trampled the nations in my anger;
in my wrath I made them drunk
and poured their blood on the ground.”
(Isaiah 63:4-7, NIV)
It is Isaiah 62-63 that shows us a God who is not passively benign, but rather, is passionate, involved in our affairs, and bent toward making the evil injustices of situations such as these right, again. Though no one else seems to care for those who have been trodden on by the world, Jesus Loves them dearly, with perfect Love—and tramples the evil, disgusting people who have callously trampled them.
It is with Hope and Faith in this God that we look forward to each of these young women making it home—in Christ’s way and timing. Of course this day is a solemn, sad one, as we look at the many young women who are still not free. But, in this sadness, we can choose to look towards Jesus. Looking backward, we can see all Jesus has done; and looking forward, we can wait in expectant Hope to see all that He will do.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His Love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). May the Truth of this statement spur us all onto trusting Jesus, keep us aware of the Chibok girls’ situation in Northern Nigeria, and keep us praying for their release—and the release of all those taken by Boko Haram. God is good; His Love will endure all things.
This post is dedicated to the women and children found and freed from prostitution as a part of the “Backpage” FBI investigation. May these women and children find ultimate freedom from their way of life, whether they were coerced into it or not, by coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Do you know Jesus?
So many look at the goodness people do as an indication of where they will spend eternity, but this is just not the case. Salvation is not based on what we do– it is based upon what Christ did (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter who you are, or what you have done, Christ wants you to know that if you believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sin, you will be saved (Romans 3:23; 10:10)!
Learn more about this God, who gives salvation and forgiveness so freely, and why you need Him, here.
Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet here)…
- The Chibok school girls. Please continue to pray for their desire to be free, and for their release. You can find a list of their names and pictures, here.
- The loved ones of the Chibok school girls. Please pray that Christ would give them strength, courage, and patience as they await their daughters’ homecoming.
- Renewed interest in the Chibok girls. Pray that this world, especially today and in the days to come, would give these women and their plight the attention, prayer, and help they deserve.
- The safe homecoming of Leah Sharibu. Sharibu is the only Dapchi girl not freed, only because she refused to renounce Christ. Please pray she is able to come home, soon.
- Northern Nigeria as a whole.
Thank you for your prayers!! May the Chibok girls be home this time next year.